This was written by Larry Ferlazzo, who teaches English at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He writes a popular blog for teachers and is the author of three books. He is a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. A version of this excerpt appeared on his blog, “Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.”
By Larry Ferlazzo
I’m going to take a stab at some prognostication for 2012. I batted close to 50% in last year’s predictions, which can’t be much worse than those made by professional pundits. Feel free to add your own predictions — and don’t hesitate to include “wishful thinking!”
My predictions for 2012:
1. Proponents of what is typically called “corporate school reform” — expansion of charter schools and teacher merit pay, primarily evaluating teachers by student test scores, erosion of seniority rights — will emphasize expanding their agenda through three major avenues: Teach For America will use their new $50 million grant from the federal government to enter multiple new districts; KIPP charter Schools will do the same with their new $25.5 million grant from the Walton FamilyFoundation; and, in California at least, charter operators will build on their recent push to have county Boards of Education’s approve charter applications over school district objections.
2. Notwithstanding recent court decisions in New York City, efforts to publish teacher ratings by test scores in local newspapers will die out. Newspapers will shy away from publicizing this misleading data after seeing the backlash received by The Los Angeles Times after they pioneered this questionable practice. In addition, since more districts are unfortunately including student test scores in teacher evaluations, the practice of making “job reviews” public will becoming increasingly questionable legally.
3. There will be a surge of interest in the concept of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), the idea of explicitly helping students learn about and develop character traits like self-control and perseverance. Unfortunately, that interest will be combined with a strong desire to test and grade, and much of its potential effectiveness will be lost.
4. Here in California, Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies will be successful in convincing proponents of other tax initiatives to focus on supporting his ballot drive. His plan to increase taxes would result in billions more for schools, and will pass handily. That success will inspire similar efforts in other states during following years.
5. As the 2012 presidential election nears, and the polls show a Romney/Obama contest as a nail-biter, the Obama administration will offer a “fall surprise” to teachers by offering states waivers to No Child Left Behind requirements that don’t have the “poison pills” of rules and costs that their present waiver hold. The tactic will work, and larger numbers of educators will actively campaign for the president in the election’s final months.
6. The inaccurate teacher evaluations in New York, Tennessee and Florida will force states to go much more slowly in implementing ones that include student test scores as a sizable percentage of the ranking. Unfortunately, the momentum for these types of evaluations will only be slowed, not stopped.
7. There will be a renewed interest in using Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) as an evaluation and professional development strategy. Districts that expand the use of this process, which treats educators as professionals, will find increasing success for students, their families, and educators alike.
8. Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee will continue her decline in public credibility and relevance. Her work with some of the most conservative, and anti-teacher, Republicans has made her highly unpopular among many Democrats. And, as her Republican allies falter in their own success and popularity across the country, she is, incredibly and unsuccessfully, trying to build a base here in California.
10. As I did last year, I’m borrowing this last one from Bill Ivey, a colleague in the Teacher Leaders Network. He predicts that “Each and every school day will bring tens of thousands of reasons to celebrate in schools across the country.” That sure sounds good to me…
Please share your reactions, and your own predictions!
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